the story: The holodeck adventures of Captain Proton become real when aliens who are in essence holograms themselves discover their existence...!
what it's all about: "Bride of Chaotica!" is part of a fine Star Trek tradition of farces that seem like they really shouldn't work, but they're so fun they're hard not to love. The original series and Deep Space Nine shared one, essentially ("The Trouble with Tribbles," "Trials and Tribble-ations," respectively), while Next Generation had "A Fistful of Datas" and Enterprise "In a Mirror, Darkly." Captain Proton had debuted at the start of the fifth season, but basing a whole episode around him worked out wonderfully.
Of course, the whole idea is based off the original filmed science fiction, serials that ended up inspiring not only Star Trek but the Star Wars saga as well. To see a Star Trek version of it is fun little tacit acknowledgment of that fact.
The fun of it goes in a lot of directions. Janeway's performance as Queen Arachnia is another fifth season breakthrough for the character (it's odd to wait five seasons for something like this, where Next Generation and Deep Space Nine had their third seasons for it, but it's worth the wait, and there's still "11:59" ahead, plus the dark "Equinox" saga), a rare opportunity to see Janeway in a lighter mood. The aliens, like Species 8472 before them (last seen earlier in the season, "In the Flesh"), come from the rarely-employed vault of beings from another dimension who have no real concept of ours. In the process, they are yet another examination on the nature of holographic life, which Voyager explored again and again, no doubt inspired by the Doctor.
- franchise - A romp in the classic tradition.
- series - A chance to see the familiar characters in a different light.
- character - Particularly Janeway.
- essential - A classic romp, actually, in the classic tradition.
Martin Rayner (Chaotica)